ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The injury bug that's pestered the Wild throughout the season hasn't infected the defense much, but it sure stung the blue line when it knocked Jonas Brodin out of the lineup earlier this week.
He's on the mend from hand surgery, a recovery that subtracts a top-four pillar from the Wild's playoff pursuit for up to a month.
This is the latest batch of adversity to be dished to the Wild and while the team has been able to mostly adapt during the previous challenges, the group stumbled in its first test Thursday -- wasting a three-goal lead en route to a 4-3 overtime loss to the last-place Coyotes in front of 18,816 at Xcel Energy Center that still kicked off a five-game homestand by extending the team's point streak on home ice to a franchise record 11 games.
Rookie Clayton Keller capped the comeback, wiring a shot by goalie Devan Dubnyk 3 minutes, 55 seconds into the extra period. Dubnyk racked up 36 saves.
After a ho-hum start that saw the Coyotes hold the early edge in shots, the Wild managed to post a one-goal lead before the first period ended.
Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta kicked out his pad to stop winger Nino Niederreiter in tight, but the puck stayed loose. Winger Tyler Ennis fed defenseman Jared Spurgeon from behind the net, and Spurgeon deflected the puck over to center Eric Staal for the finish with 2 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the first.
Not only was it Staal's team-leading 24th goal, but his 49 points also pace the Wild.
The offense was more opportunistic in the second; center Matt Cullen capitalized on a breakaway, lifting a backhand over Raanta at 5:54 after the play was set up by defenseman Matt Dumba and Gustav Olofsson -- the team's new second pairing.
And at 9:59, the Wild went up 3-0 when Mike Reilly wired the puck blocker-side for his first goal of the season and first since Feb.4, 2017. Cullen earned an assist on the goal for his third two-point effort of the season.
Overall, the blue line combined for four points amid the new look that had bubble players Olofsson and Reilly earning more steady minutes in Brodin's absence.
Arizona responded quickly, as winger Nick Cousins buried a cross-crease feed from Alex Goligoski just 1:31 after Reilly's goal on Raanta, who ended with 25 saves.
In the third, the Coyotes moved within at 8:02 on a shot from defenseman Kevin Connauton -- another tally Goligoski set up, this time along with Derek Stepan.
That called for a photo finish, a somewhat surprising reality between the NHL's worst team and one of its most dominant on home ice, but the Coyotes' speed and hustle deservedly put Arizona in contention for this game -- which saw both teams go 0 for 1 on the power play.
The caliber of competition the rest of this homestand is going to get tougher, at least based on how everyone slots in the standings, with the likes of the Capitals and Ducks on deck.
And although it was able to snag at least a point, this result against the Coyotes should serve as a wakeup call for the Wild as they'll need to pick up their pace the rest of this stretch.
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